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June 9, 2017

As OECD Wraps Up, Manufacturers Call for Transparency, Accountability, Reform at Global Institutions

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer joined global leaders in Paris this week, highlighting the Trump administration’s priorities for international engagement during meetings of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). As the administration defines its objectives for engagement with global institutions like the OECD, manufacturers and voters alike are looking to the Trump administration to strengthen U.S. leadership, defend American interests, and push for badly needed reform at these global institutions themselves.

The OECD exemplifies both the benefits and the challenges that global institution initiatives pose – and the need for transparency, accountability, and reform. As an organization of generally like-minded countries focused on promoting data-driven policies and high-level standards to boost trade, economic growth, and competitiveness, the OECD has been a champion for free markets, good governance, democracy, and transparency – all principles in line with U.S. values and economic interests.

In many cases, the OECD sets a strong model for stakeholder engagement, with clear channels that bring in governments, the private sector, trade unions, and other stakeholders to engage on policy challenges. Manufacturers in the United States have been participants in, and supporters of, well-run OECD initiatives over the years, with recent examples including the OECD Steel Committee and Export Credit Initiative.

Nevertheless, some initiatives at the OECD committee level appear to undermine this successful approach and may undermine health technology innovation and intellectual property protections, produce selective tax recommendations that are not based on sound science, and recommend guidelines that could hamper supply chain operations.  In other cases, the OECD seems to be limiting the global acceptance of U.S. private-sector developed standards. These initiatives don’t reflect the OECD’s traditional commitment to transparency, good regulatory practice, sound science, stakeholder engagement, and accountability to member states.

The United States, other member states, and the OECD secretariat must ensure the OECD and other global institutions spend their limited time and resources on transparent, high-quality initiatives focused on the most pressing global challenges – and are important to convince allies and skeptics alike of the value and good governance of these institutions.

The Engaging America’s Global Leadership (EAGL) coalition, a group of 23 diverse associations focused on promoting stronger U.S. leadership and greater accountability at global institutions, is calling on all stakeholders to address these issues. Congress and the Administration must engage, lead, and defend U.S. interests in these institutions – but global institutions, member state governments, and other stakeholders must also rethink their processes and advance long-overdue reforms that ensure transparency, accountability, and mission focus for programs and initiatives. Based on polling data recently released by EAGL, voters across America agree with this focus – and the need for immediate reform.